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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

GODS, DEVILS, AND MEN                      61

The ghost began to come down in her terms and asked in a still softer
tone if she might have a little wine and meat, but Su Tungpo was still
adamant. Over-awed by the infidel, the ghost would now be satisfied
with the burning of a little prayer money. The poet still refused.
Finally the ghost asked only for a.glass of water, and Su Tungpo said:
"Give it to her." After drinking lie water, the wet nurse fell upon the
ground again and soon recovered her consciousness. But her breasts
dried up thereafter.

There was an episode during his Fengshiang period of which Su
Tungpo seemed a little ashamed and which he did not like to talk
about in later life. So far, he had got along beautifully with his
superior, Sung, who was an old friend of his family. When a new
; chief magistrate arrived, however, there came a change. The new
magistrate, one Chen, was an old soldier and a stern disciplinarian,
dark and muscular and with a sharp glint in his eyes. He came from
Su Tuagpo's home district and was inclined to look upon him as a
young upstart. Chen had an unusual and creditable official record.
Once he arrested a corrupt monk of Changsha with many powerful
connections and handed him over to justice, to the amazement of the
people of the district. Another time he arrested more than seventy
sorcerers who preyed upon the ignorant populace, and he compelled
them to return to their homes as farmers. At the same time he
/demolished certain temples given over to immoral practices. It was
said that when his soldiers were commanded to stand still, they would
~do so even when arrows from the enemy were falling thick from
the sky.

It was such a person that Su Tungpo now had for his superior. All
the military and civil officials bowed their heads in his presence, but in
the case of Su Tungpo, as we can well surmise, two uncompromising
characters were brought face to face. Often in an argument hot words
were exchanged. Su Tungpo was both young and brilliant, and it was
difficult for a brilliant young man who had very definite ideas of his
own to bow to external authority. Probably the chief annoyance to Su
/Tungpo as a writer was the fact that the chief magistrate again and
f again would correct and mutilate Su's drafts of official communications.
As a means of showing his displeasure, Chen often would not receive
him when he called, and sometimes kept him waiting long enough
for Su to take a nap. The quarrel between the two eventually went
so far that Chen sent a report to the capital on Su Tungpo's insub-
ordination.

The opportunity soon came for Su Tungpo to have his revenge. The
chief magistrate had erected an open terrace inside the official residence,
where, in his leisure hours, he could go up and get a better view of the